How Much Should My Grocery Budget Be?

Last week Mr.CBB asked me, “What do you think is a reasonable weekly grocery budget for 1 person in Canada?” The question got me thinking: You can’t define a single weekly grocery budget that will work for everyone because there are too many variables.

Determining Your Grocery Budget

First and foremost, a budget is determined by income. Some people can afford to spend more on food than others. A Budget is also affected by food prices, which can vary depending upon your location. For example, because the weather is inhospitable to farming and the location remote, food will always cost more in the Yukon than it will in Ontario.

Through need or preference, some people will have special dietary needs. If you need to buy special ingredients due to an allergy or illness, or if you choose to eat only organic foods, you can expect to pay a premium for shopping to accommodate those requirements.

How Much Effort Are You Willing To Put In?

Grocery budgets are also affected by how much time and effort a person is willing to invest in food preparation and meal planning. When I’m not earning a pay-check we spend less money on food out of necessity. We achieve that goal because I spend a lot of time preserving, cooking from scratch, and foraging for wild food.

When I am earning a pay-check we tend to spend more on food, both because we can and because I have less time to invest in the labour intensive processes of canning, baking, and cooking.

How Many People Are You Feeding?

The number of people you are cooking for will also significantly affect the amount of your grocery budget. The usual rule of thumb is that the cost per portion for a dish is inversely proportional to the number of servings being prepared.

Regardless of whether you’re cooking a small quantity or a huge batch, you still have to buy all the ingredients required to make a recipe. It’s usually not possible to buy a teaspoon of cinnamon or four tablespoons of butter, so you end up buying a whole container of cinnamon and a whole pound of butter even though it’s more than you actually require for that particular dish.

If you’re preparing a larger batch, you’ll use a larger percentage of those purchased ingredients, but you’ll still have paid the same price to buy them.

How Much Are You Willing To Spend?

There’s also the issue of comfort level. Some people are comfortable with spending a larger amount on groceries than others. I have a friend who regularly spends around $1000.00/month to feed her family of four and she’s fine with that. Another friend with a comparable income is uncomfortable when her grocery budget exceeds $400.00/month.

Although I’m inclined to favour the lesser expenditure, it’s not my place to judge either budget.  Both of my friends have defined what works for them.

How To Estimate Your Grocery Budget

So…With all of those variables how do you estimate how much money you should spend in the grocery budget each week?

  • First you look at what you can afford and you shop within that limit.
  • Next you look at what your shopping has provided you.
  • Lastly, are you getting enough to eat?  Are you eating a healthful diet?
Have I Budgeted Too Much For Food?

If the answer to these questions is yes, you’ve probably budgeted enough money for food. Now, look at what goes into your garbage can and recycling bin.  Is there a lot of waste in your kitchen? Is your food spoiling before you use it up? Do you find yourself discarding a lot of packaging?

If so, chances are you’re spending too much on food.

So…How, then, do you decide on what is an appropriate amount to budget?

Well, you set a benchmark, try it on for size, and then adjust it after you’ve worked with it for a couple of months.

In most of Canada, a single adult with normal dietary requirements can eat well for about $50.00/week. (This amount is for food only, not household items or personal items.) If you are buying for one person and can afford to spend that much on food, that amount would be a good place to start.

If you’re buying for more than one person, try starting with a monthly grocery budget that is roughly 10% of your month’s take-home pay.

If, over time, you find that you can eat well without spending the full amount you’ve allotted, cut back your grocery budget and put your savings toward something else.

Have I Budgeted Too Little For Food?

If you find that you are stretching to make it to the end of the month while staying within your grocery budget, look first to what you’re buying and how you’re using it. Are there ways you can use your food dollars more efficiently? Address these challenges first.

  • Are youshopping” your fridge and pantry first when planning your meals?
  • Or are you heading straight to the grocery store?

If you can’t make your grocery budget work by adjusting your habits, then adjust your budget upward – a little at a time – until you find the number that works for you. Just remember: The more efficiently you manage your grocery budget, the more money you’ll have to direct towards the other goals in your life.

Contribution Post By:  Aunt B’s family jokes that she started writing because she just doesn’t know when to be quiet!  In truth, her blogs grew out of a long illness and helped her to keep in touch with the world around her.  She’s interested in everything, and shares her interests at Aunt B on a BudgetA Word from Aunt BB on Balance  and B-Attitude.

Editors Note:

If you want to start saving money with your grocery budget join us here weekly to post your grocery shop in The Grocery Game Challenge. You will learn all you need to know about grocery shopping and how to save using coupons, flyer sales, meal planning and more.

My family budget is $235.00 a month for 2 people and a $20 stockpile budget which includes health and beauty, cleaning supplies and toiletries. Follow our journey every Tuesday when I post our grocery shop, grocery budget numbers, coupons used, coupons found and much more in The Grocery Game Challenge.

Many Canadian Budget Binder Fans have lowered their grocery budget simply by posting their shops and being mindful of what is going into their shopping cart. No matter if you have a Grocery Budget for 1, Grocery Budget for 2, Grocery Budget for a family of 3, Grocery Budget for a family of 4 or more you need a budget in order to save money.

Read how one fan went from spending $1100 a month on Groceries to just $600 a month by reducing their budget and making changes to the way they think about spending money.

 A few of our most popular Grocery Game Challenge Posts:

You can see our grocery budget example for 2 people and also see examples of family grocery budgets from our fans who post their shops in the comment section of the post.

Also check out my Free Money Saving downloadable Tools Page where you can get all sort of lists that you can print such as a pantry list, freezer inventory list, furnace filter change chart, over-time tracking chart, Net Worth Calculator, Shopping List, Garage Sale Route List and so much more and it’s all FREE!!!

One last thing to help you with your grocery budget is knowing about The Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) educate yourself and learn how you can save money at the cash!!

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